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Blockade and Israel’s Collective Punishment of Gaza Continue

While snow, sleet and rain falls on an landscape of bombed out apartment buildings, flattened farmhouses, shattered schools and cratered streets, many thousands of Gazans are suffering a chilly winter in tents after their homes were demolished by the raging Israeli behemoth. Materials to rebuild housing have been denied entry by the Gazans’ gaolers. According to the UN’s John Ging, the destruction in Gaza is massive, with most of the infrastructure destroyed. 90% of Gaza’s drinking water is unsafe, contaminated by sewerage from the wanton damage wreaked on the sewerage treatment plant by the Israelis. Raw sewage is still flowing into the Mediterranean. It’s been several weeks since Israel declared its unilateral ‘truce’ and more than three years since Israel commenced its disgraceful blockade on the neighbours from whom it originally stole land to create its squattocracy.

In the process of denying human dignity to Gaza residents, Israel is capricious about what it will let in – and no concrete, steel or glass is permitted into the Gaza Gulag at all. Do those who presently visit collective punishment on the Gazan people gloat over their power as did their predecessors? When will Israel’s satraps decide the worrisome and possibly terroristic pasta, paper and hearing aids will join the ‘permitted’ list?

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said: “Israel’s blockade policy can be summed up in one word and it is punishment, not security.”

Abbas, the illegitimate Palestinian el Presidente (‘al ra’is al filastini al muntahi wilayato’) attends the sham donor talks in Sharm Al-Sheikh and obliging donors trump up with $5.2b to rebuild Gaza which may at Israel’s whim be summarily destroyed again when concealment is desired for further land thefts or other acts of dominion.

Now donor countries have to find a way to rebuild Gaza. Yesterday, donors pledged a total of
US$5.2 billion (RM19.4 billion) for Gaza and for the government of Hamas’ main rival, Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas had sought at least US$2.8 billion in new aid from the donors’ conference in the Egyptian
resort of Sharm el-Sheik.

How will the $900b US money be channelled?

The US “pledged” $900 million but $200 million of those will go to cover deficits of the administration of Mahmous Abbas, $400 million to West Bank projects (many profiting Israel), and the remaining $300 million will be slated for Gaza but may never get there because the US refuses to deal or help anything associated with Hamas and Hamas is the de facto government (and most of the people) of Gaza.

Snow in Gaza by Sameh Habeeb Israel, which destroyed Gaza under false pretexts, having planned its massacre since before its truce with Hamas last June, deliberately refusing to renegotiate the truce since Israel broke it on November 4, 08, despite the near non-existence of rockets for several months during the truce, doesn’t have to pay a cent to its unfortunate victims for its horrific bombardment, slaughter and war crimes. And why would the US wish them to, as shekels can now flow back to the penny-strapped US to restock Israel’s elephantine arsenal.

Hamas is not pleased with the outcome of the donor conference:

In an exclusive press statement to the PIC, Yehia Moussa, a member of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, said Monday that the Sharm Al-Sheikh conference is politicized par excellence, challenging the use of these funds for reconstructing what was really destroyed by Israel because of the corruption of the parties who would receive them and the continued Israeli control over the crossings.

Moussa emphasized that there are several reasons that make the PA and its government in Ramallah ineligible to obtain these funds including that the PA no longer represents the Palestinian people after the expiry of ex-PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s term of office.

The lawmaker expressed his belief that that the hundreds of millions that were mentioned in the conference would be dissipated and misappropriated by symbols of corruption.

Clinton is in Israel for meetings with Tipsy and Peres, and the obligatory trip to the Holocaust Museum, to assure the Israelis that “US commitment to Israel’s security and to its democracy as a Jewish state, remains fundamental, unshakable, and eternally durable”. Clinton demonstrates how completely she is out of touch with reality, repeating Israel’s mantra of Hamas’ culpability for rockets which are launched by fringe groups, without regard to the fact that Israel destroyed most of Gaza’s internal security apparatus, targeting police stations and policemen who might have been able to prevent such activities, and furthermore ignoring the obvious necessity and right under international law for the Palestinian people to defend against and resist Israel’s illegal, brutal occupation and its infinitely greater destruction of human lives and dignities. In her initial statement, she doesn’t even mention the blockade, Israel’s illegal occupation and collective punishment of the Gazan people.

The first step right now, not waiting for a new government, is a durable ceasefire. But that can only be achieved if Hamas ceases the rocket attacks. No nation should be expected to sit idly by and allow rockets to assault its people and its territories. These attacks must stop and so must the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. These activities put innocent lives of Israelis and Palestinians at risk and undermine the well-being of the people of Gaza.

One has more chance of being struck by lightning or run over by a bus than being hit by a puny Qassam rocket, but let’s not allow facts get in the way of US obeisance to Israel’s customary underdog bargaining position. Neither is it contemplated as relevant that the land on which Israel presently squats was stolen from its prior inhabitants, from whom they are stealing still more land while maintaining a 40 year long illegal Occupation over essentially defenceless Palestinians. Since when do robbers have a right of self-defence over and above those from whom they steal and continue to steal? Another 73,000 dwellings are planned on Palestinian land outside Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank as well as more within Jerusalem itself which Clinton fails to mention. How blasé are the Americans about Israeli land theft these days. As with the ineffectual Rice, Clinton reveals she has no empathy, let alone sympathy, for the dispossessed, so enamoured is she with the confected ‘a priori’ rights of the aggressor.

Israel has had myriad opportunities to remove its illegal occupation, to accept borders which have been defined for it and to allow Palestinians their state. Yet the Zionist project has procrastinated and dissembled at each juncture, flaunting numerous UN Security Council resolutions, sabotaging peace talks and committing inflammatory assassinations. Israel ensures more delays to ceding of stolen territory, leaving potential for future concatenation with previous land thefts.

Under press questioning about the blockade on Gaza, Clinton unreservedly applauds the perspectives of Israel’s leaders. She shows no recognition whatsoever of the screaming, appalling need to rebuild basic infrastructure in Gaza like clean water – in letting Israel off the hook for this and its concurrent, incendiary land thieving activities elsewhere, Clinton happily makes herself an accomplice to ongoing collective crimes against Palestinians. In weasel words – again in time-honoured US tradition, Israel is depicted as the helpless victim despite its ongoing bombings, border incursions, killings and land theft in Palestine, and never the aggressor. Israel insists it must be recognised as responding ‘as any other country would’, righteously punishing and demonising its caged civilian neighbours, some of whom who have the outrageous gall to object to their 61 year long marginalised existence, humiliations, deprivations and ejection from their own land with violent resistance.

I think that clearly the humanitarian needs in Gaza are ones that we all are attempting to alleviate. In our discussions, the foreign minister pointed out that consistent with security, they are trying to do what they can to facilitate the transit of humanitarian goods.

It doesn’t help to have the rockets start up again. That is the double reality that we’re facing here. We have a humanitarian challenge in Gaza with a lot of innocent Palestinians in need of the help that could be provided, and Hamas decides to continue to rain rockets down on Israel.

Yesterday, in my remarks and the remarks that I made afterwards at the press event, I pointed out that it’s very difficult to solve this dilemma when Israel is still under physical attack. I certainly would appeal to the rocket launchers and their patrons to enter into a durable ceasefire and permit the humanitarian aid to flow.

At the same time, we know that the smuggling continues. We know there are certainly lots of items getting into Gaza, and there has to be a real concerted effort to try to cut off the smuggling of weapons, including rockets and other offensive weapons.

But I know that the Government of Israel and certainly the foreign minister share our concern about the humanitarian needs and are looking for a way to facilitate even greater delivery of necessary goods.

Livni hops up to the pitch with her complementary prevaricative blither:

I would like to add clearly that the crossings are open for humanitarian needs. The crossings are not closed for humanitarian needs. Israel is not trying to punish the population in Gaza Strip. We are acting against Hamas, since this is a terrorist organization, who, in a way, abuse the fact that it controls the civil population in order to target Israel, and in order to get legitimacy from the international community.

And much more of the same rubbishy rhetoric predictably demonising the democratically elected Hamas government.

It is worth noting that Israel’s concept of humanitarian aid is a fraction of that which the UN and other agencies say is required by the people of Gaza.

Officially, Israel insists all the aid that Gaza needs is being allowed in. The cabinet minister responsible, Isaac Herzog, recently said about 100 trucks a day is about as much as can be absorbed by the Palestinians on a daily basis.

…….

That statement is sounding increasingly ludicrous, given what every aid agency and the UN has made clear about the desperate situation in Gaza. The UN says 500 trucks is the minimum required.

In her statement, Hillary quotes commitments she made at the Egypt Conference.

That is the message that I brought to the Gaza donors conference, along with a pledge that the United States will be vigorously engaged in the pursuit of a two-state solution every step of the way. Our Special Envoy Senator Mitchell is here with me today. He will be back soon, once there is a government formed. The road ahead, we acknowledge, is a difficult one but there is no time to waste.

Then under questioning, she waltzes backward, pointing ever so gently to US support for a two state solution. Her production is mealy-mouthed, allowing Israel much the same criminal latitude it has enjoyed from its craven host for decades.

It is our assessment, as I expressed yesterday and again today, that eventually the inevitability of working toward a two-state solution seems inescapable. That doesn’t mean that we don’t respect the opinions of others who see it differently. But from my perspective, and from the perspective of the Obama Administration, time is of the essence on a number of issues, not only on the Iranian threat. We happen to believe that moving toward the two-state solution, step by step, is in Israel’s best interest. But obviously, it’s up to the people and the government of Israel to decide how to define your interests.

No mention of Israel’s new settlement plans whatsoever. No stick, no carrot. Just accommodation to Nutanyahoo, who doesn’t want a two state solution at all, but rather a de facto continuation of the three existing bantustans, with the West Bank and Jerusalem ever-dwindling in size from the predations of armed land-thieving ‘settlers‘.

As for the terrible two’s transparent discussions on Iran, one gets the distinct feeling the cynics are correct – that Israel has the US firmly by the throat and will gain whatever it wants from the US to prevent Iran developing as a regional power – yet there are those within the US who still believe the US can project its power in the region through its voracious Israeli proxy. The spectre of Iran seeking nukes is a pathetic smokescreen.

From Clinton:

The foreign minister and I also discussed Iran. We share Israel’s concerns about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its continued financing of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. As we conduct our policy review and consider areas where we might be able to productively engage with Iran, we will stay in very close consultation with our friends here in Israel, with the neighbors of Iran in the region and beyond with those countries that understand what a threat Iran poses today, and what a greater threat it would pose were it ever to be successful in its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

There’s that fervid US political imagination working overtime again, in contradiction to its own CIA intelligence assessments.

Livni prances forward in response, not forgetting to throw in the lame canard about Iran actively seeking nuclear weapons, first punctuating with a fond kiss the US’s reprehensible decision to boycott April’s UN World Conference Against Racism in Geneva.

And Israel, I would say, proud to be or to represent these values here in the Middle East. According to these values and the need to fight anti-Semitism, I would like to express not only the government appreciates them, but the people of Israel’s appreciation to the standing that you took against the participation in Durban. This demonstrates the values of the United States of America. It was a symbolic decision, and I hope to see more states who are going to follow this decision. And I would like to thank you personally for this.

According to these values, there is an understanding between Israel and the United States of America that the division in the region is between extremists and moderates, and there’s a need to act according to a dual strategy. On one hand, to confront terror, to act against extremism that is being represented here in the region by Iran, who poses these threats trying to pursue a weapon – a nuclear weapon and expresses its extreme ideology, which is not connected in any way to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What is this ‘understanding’? and what of this preposterous parading of black and white thinking redolent of the vacuous Bush years of foreign policy and strategic errors, now with added ‘red lines’ for decoration, surrounding the gigantic lies about yet another nation which Israel insists is its next greatest threat? With moderates like Israel, one need look no further for extremism.

Israel Pummels Rafah – Again

gazamassacre

Did Egypt know Israel’s intentions when it sealed the Rafah borders again on Thursday?

Once more Israel bombs tunnels between its Gaza concentration camp and the outside world.

Israel launched air strikes in Gaza late Friday to strike tunnels used to smuggle weapons and an arms depot in retaliation to Palestinian rocket attacks, an Israeli military spokesman said.

“Our planes attacked four tunnels that were dug under the border with Egypt and used for weapons smuggling,” the spokesman told AFP.

“An arms depot was also targeted and the explosives that were stocked there exploded,” he said, adding that the raids were “a response to the firing of two Palestinian rockets in the morning.”

Palestinian security forces and witnesses earlier said that Israeli planes had launched raids on targets in the Rafah sector, near the border with Egypt, without causing injuries.

The air strikes came hours after Palestinian militants fired two rockets at southern Israel without causing damage or victims, according to a military spokesman.

Palestinian militants have fired about 40 rockets and mortar rounds since Israel ended its 22-day military offensive against the Palestinian territory on January 18.

Israel, which launched its assault on December 27 with the stated aim of stemming rocket attacks, has warned of “the severest riposte” to any further rocket fire.

UNWRA suspends aid as it blames Hamas for ‘stealing’ its supplies.

In a statement, UNRWA said it had suspended aid deliveries to Gaza after the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs stole 10 truckloads of flour and rice delivered to Gaza on Thursday. Earlier this week, Hamas police took thousands of blankets and food parcels meant for needy residents.

“Hamas has got to hand back all the aid that they have taken and they have to give credible assurances that this will not happen again. Until this happens, our imports into Gaza will be suspended,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.

He said the agency, which maintains “working level contacts” with Hamas, had filed a protest with the government. Gunness said UNRWA would continue to distribute aid from its existing supplies in Gaza, but that stocks were running thin.

“There is enough aid for days, not weeks,” he said.

Some 80 percent of Gaza’s 1.4 million people rely on the U.N. agency for food or other support.

In Gaza, Hamas Social Affairs Minister Ahmed al-Kurd dismissed Thursday’s incident as a “misunderstanding” and expressed hope the dispute would soon be resolved.

“We welcome all aid, whether from UNRWA or international organizations,” he said. “Any international organization that wants to help or build in Gaza, we have no conditions, come to Gaza, and we will provide security, safety and calm,” he said.

The spat with Hamas created a challenge for UNRWA, which already has been pressuring Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza’s borders to allow more aid into the area.

Most cargo into Gaza comes through Israeli-controlled crossings. Israel has largely closed the crossings since Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007. Israel fears supplies will reach Hamas, which it considers a terrorist group.

More info about the stolen aid.

A Hamas spokesman attributed the most recent incident, on Thursday night, to a misunderstanding among truck drivers, and said that those who stole an earlier load from a United Nations distribution site were not part of Hamas. He said that Hamas and United Nations officials were meeting and that he expected the problem to be cleared up quickly.

Ma’an News Agency notes:

De facto minister of Palestinian social affairs Ahamd Al-Kurd, however, claimed “There is no problem or issue between the de facto government and UNRWA.”

The comments came in response to UNRWA’s announcement that aid deliveries into the Strip would be halted after two thefts attributed to the de facto police and ministry.

In a statement Al-Kurd insisted that “The de facto government did not stop any of the UNRWA tucks.” And rather that the problem was some confusion over who was supposed to pick up the goods, the UNRWA transport or the de facto ministry; “between the drivers to identify the goods.”

He explained that the de facto government driver loaded nine trucks at the crossing on 5 February, and the UNRWA driver loaded 24 trucks, he said. When the mistake was discovered the de facto government issued instructions to identify the misplaced goods and return them to UNRWA.

The statement made no mention of a 3 February incident where UNRWA employees reported armed de facto government police took 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels from a distribution store at Beach Camp in Gaza by police personnel.

Al-Au’ja admitted to Al-Jazeera, however, that the 3 February shipment was seized, saying that the aid should be more widely distributed to Gaza’s 1.5 million population.

The UNRWA staff had already reportedly refused to give supplies to the de facto Ministry of Social Affairs. During the incident police broke into the warehouse and seized aid by force.

Gaza Rubble
What can be done to alleviate the extreme distress suffered by the Palestinian people as a result of the hideous Israeli Occupation?

As’ad Abdul Rahman points out some of the options available for Palestinian resistance:

Understandably, things have so much deteriorated that the Palestinian people considering peaceful resolution of the Palestinian problem are left with one of three valid immediate choices: 1) a national unity government; 2) dismantling of the PNA, or, 3) a third uprising, Intifada, through the declaration of a general peaceful civil disobedience.

This Intifada, however, could not start except after the achievement of national reconciliation that will strengthen the stand of the Palestinian people in the face of Israeli aggression. In this case, it is imperative that the Ramallah government, together with the police and security forces in the West Bank, engage peacefully in the general non-violent civil disobedience.

The Palestinian Security forces of the Ramallah government should not be deployed as instruments of oppression conforming to the “orders and wishes” of the US and Israel, neither should Palestinians engaged in the civil disobedience movement (including Hamas and its forces) resort to the carrying or use of arms in any way. It should be a civilised peaceful uprising, albeit thorough and massive.

The time is now ripe for the launching of a serious all-out resistance that would bring an end to the Israeli occupation and bring to realisation the independent sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Australian Zionist bodies have their knickers in a knot over comments made by the notorious ‘women are cat meat’ Sheik al-Hilali and Australian Federation of Islamic Councils chairman Ikebal Patel analogising Israel’s attack on the Gazan people as a Holocaust.

Mr Patel said yesterday he stood by his comments, though he would regret it if the Jewish council cut ties.

He said he had spoken to the state Islamic councils, other Muslim groups and many imams, and was confident he represented the mainstream Muslim view.

But he said he did not mean Israel’s actions in Gaza were the same as the Holocaust. “I meant people who suffered so much (the Holocaust) should understand the impact of modern warfare and missiles and phosphorus bombs.”

He had urged both sides to show restraint in Gaza. “Hamas firing missiles is clearly not helping the problem.”

Gaza Child killed by Israel

Threat of a Shoah being visited on the Gazan people was actually made by Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Vilnai in March 08. One wonders whether that indeed was when the recent massacre plan was concieved.

AUSTRALIAN Muslims are “seething with anger” at what they perceive as the Australian Government’s one-sided treatment of last month’s Israeli incursion into Gaza, a Melbourne leader said yesterday.

Ramzi Elsayed, president of the Islamic Council of Victoria, said he had never seen the community so hurt or aggrieved, especially after acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Israel was responding to Hamas aggression after Hamas broke the ceasefire.

“It’s as though they think one Jewish life is worth 100 Palestinians,” he said. “Enough’s enough. It’s time to call the facts as they are. Israel broke the ceasefire on 4 November.”

Responding to a Jewish threat to sever ties with Australia’s Muslims if the president of its peak body did not withdraw a comparison between Gaza and the Holocaust, Mr Elsayed said a cooling-off period was inevitable anyway.

“There’s going to be some open wounds which will take time to heal. Tension and hatred has built as never before in the Middle East, and that’s the danger in Australia.”

Mr Elsayed said the Victorian council would not have made the Holocaust comparison because they understood Jewish sensitivities, referring instead to the “massacre” of Palestinians.

Yesterday The Age reported a row between the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry — the main bodies for each faith — over the refusal of AFIC chairman Ikebal Patel to recant his claim that the former victims of the Holocaust were perpetrating “much worse atrocities” in Gaza.

Robert Goot, president of the Jewish council, said the Jewish community would not be able to work with AFIC if the remarks were not withdrawn.

For a more realistic Australian Jewish perspective, read Sarah Dowse’s article from January 8. Dowse does not see the Gazan massacre and Hamas resistance in isolation from the travesties inflicted on the Palestinian people by the British and then Zionist occupation.

The massacre in Gaza has its roots in virulent European anti-Semitism and the 1917 Balfour declaration, when the British government promised Zionists that Jewish people would have a homeland in Palestine if Britain was victorious in World War I.

The key word here is homeland, and it should be remembered that the promise was qualified by the condition that such a homeland would “not be to the detriment” of the Palestinians. The steady increase in Jewish immigration under the British mandate provoked riots and protests, but Palestinians were still in majority until, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, the Zionists unilaterally declared an Israeli state.

Despite the suffering of the Palestinians, whose land was taken from them, for many years the sympathy of the developed world was with Israel, refuge for the survivors of the Nazi slaughter of European Jews, and beleaguered by surrounding hostile Arab states.

With the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel could no longer be accepted as a victim. Yet it has continued to play on the sympathies of Western governments, most particularly the US, and Jews of the diaspora. In reality, Israel has been a colonising state, masquerading as the most democratic, most humane, most modern nation in the region. It has served the Western powers to have such a proxy in the Middle East, and most recently, under the Bush Administration and in concert with the Israelis, they have played a cynical game of divide and rule, encouraging the Israelis in their blind refusal to negotiate with Hamas, just as for years Israel refused to negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the forerunners of Fatah, whom they now support.

Hamas is not a terrorist organisation, but the legitimate, democratically elected government of the Palestinian Authority. We may not like what it stands for, but that is no reason for sidelining it. Undermining that government by Israel and the West is but one of a string of cynical actions on their part.

The rationale that Hamas has refused to accept Israel’s existence or to eschew violence is yet another example of how the truth has been twisted. What Hamas rejected was the continued, barbaric Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and the laying down of arms against an aggressive military occupation. I have heard with my own ears the Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, say exactly that. Is he to be trusted? It would have been worth a try.

And who now would trust Israel?

So here we have it: a tough, technocratically savvy, nuclear power with the backing of the largest military power the world has known, bombing, then invading, a territory the size of a small city, with a population of 1.5 million, most of whom are civilians, to “defend our citizens”.

The ceasefire was meant to lift the Israeli blockade on Gaza, but it didn’t. It was meant to facilitate the release of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were members of the elected Hamas Government, but it didn’t.

Israeli planes raided southern Gaza in November. The Hamas rockets continued. Which side broke the ceasefire? Hamas may not be blameless, but the situation is far more complex than Israel claims. The fact that more than 600 people have died because in a couple of weeks the US will have a new government and next month Israel will have an election, is the most shocking form of cynicism the Palestinian people have yet faced.

Since the 2006 invasion of Lebanon I have undergone what for me, as a Jew, has been an agonising realignment of my feelings about Israel. I have come to believe that a specifically Jewish state has been a terrible mistake.

Gazans refuse to die

A recent Palestine Chronicle article by Dina Jadallah-Taschler encapsulates the problem and analyses the false dichotomies presented by the western media:

Without an acknowledgement of injustice, there is no truth in balanced competing narratives. Without it, there will be no solutions, no rights, and no peace.

The simple fact is that Israel usurped Palestinians rights. It continues to do them a supreme injustice through the occupation and now war. All else derives from this. Therefore, when a report purports to be objective and presents the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as one of competing narratives, both of which are equally legitimate, this only serves to preserve the original imbalance of power distribution and injustice. There is a complicity in crime, in a lot of balanced reporting.

For those that are sentimental about their attachments to such balanced presentations, it is sometimes helpful to substitute other competing groups and see how well those arguments hold up. As examples, how just is it to assign equal legitimacy to the claims of slave-owners versus slaves and abolitionists; apartheid versus anti-apartheid groups; misogynist Wahhabi clerics versus women; colonialists versus colonized? Historically, in each of these cases, narratives were presented in defense of these now-indefensible positions. Religions, civilizational “white man’s burden” arguments, and traditions were called forth to buttress pre-existing uneven distributions of power so as to perpetuate them. Those who resisted were always branded as ignorant, deluded, uppity, terrorist and so forth. This is not all just historical relic. Let us not forget that until as late as April of 2008, Nelson Mandela was flagged a “terrorist” on US anti-terrorism watch lists. He had been designated as such for having dared to fight apartheid. (1) Similar tactical arguments were used by the French in Algeria, the British in India, Ireland, Kenya, and the Conquistadors against the Native peoples of the New World, to name a few.

Dinah examines the realities of the choices in the Israeli election this week and finds

Conveniently, Western “balanced” reporting ignores some decidedly unbalanced facts.

For one, the Likud Party Charter and platform does not recognize a Palestinian state. It specifically states that the settlements are “the realization of Zionist values” and that it will “prevent their uprooting.” It goes on to say that “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.” Contrast this with the excoriation of Hamas for not recognizing “Israel’s right to exist.” Similarly, Lieberman’s vitriolic invective against Arabs and Palestinians, both inside and outside Israel, is inheritor of Meir Kahane’s racist enterprise. His advocacy of “transferring” Palestinian citizens of Israel and his vociferous rejection of creating a Palestinian state indicates that what was once fringe has now become mainstream. (7) Credit for this is due to balanced competing narratives discourse, which has effectively lumped all Israelis into the “good” camp opposing the Axis of Evil.

Another discursive myth is Israel’s “most moral army in the world.” The attack on Gaza revealed the IDF valiantly “winning” by massacring hundreds of defenseless women and children. Amnesty International reported that the IDF also engaged in such “professional” behavior as the use of white phosphorus to incinerate civilians, the bombing of UNRWA schools where refugees were seeking shelter, and the looting and desecration (sometimes even with excrement) of Gazans’ homes. The Palestinian Authority estimates the material extent of the damage at $2 billion.

The examples discussed above demonstrate clearly how balanced talk can hide a reality of injustice and a project for its perpetuation. But the secret ugly truth remains. Its repercussions are not limited to continued Palestinian resistance and demands for freedom. Proof is also evident on the flip side of that coin. Israel, the “fair,” the “moderate,” the “peace-loving,” the “good,” is now so afraid of the legal repercussions of their actions in Gaza, that they are now prohibiting the identification of the participants in the “war.” (8)

Negotiations for a truce with Israel will apparently continue on Sunday in Cairo.

The Israeli proposal Hamas received in Egypt “needs a lot of clarification,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum Friday.

Several articles are unclear and Hamas has presented questions to Egypt, who is meeting with Israeli negotiator Amos Gilad. One example, said Barhoum, is Israel’s proposed “partial lifting of the siege” which would leave 30% under Israeli control. There was also some issue over what parties would guarantee Israel’s compliance with the agreement.

Israeli media reported Friday evening that officials felt an agreement was close at hand. According to one source the agreement will include the full opening of Gaza’s border crossings with Israel and Egypt, though the latter will have Palestinian Authority security officials supervising the border.

The truce, according to the Israeli source, will have an 18-month duration with an option for renewal.

The Hamas delegation will arrive in Cairo Sunday, not Saturday as previously announced, and will review what Gilad has amended to the document. There has not been a final decision on the agreement, affirmed Barhoum, who blamed the delay on “Israeli arrogance.”

Elements of the reconstruction plan, however, have already been agreed on said the spokesman.

Reconstruction will take place in two stages, said Barhoum. “First allowing aid and heavy equipments to clean the debris in to the Gaza Strip,” and “opening roads and allowing prefab homes [to be transported into Gaza] for those displaced” during the war.

The second stage, he said, “is the total rebuilding of Gaza.” Hamas is ready to facilitate the work of all sides and has given its word that they will not obstruct efforts, and that the reconstruction should not be politicized.

Good reading:

Jim Rissman’s The Rewriting, Un-rewriting and Re-rewriting of History

Incidentally, if you had meant to read Fateful Triangle but never got around to it, now’s a good time, while the recent events are fresh in mind. The brunt of it takes place in 1981-1982, with the Palestine Liberation Organization taking the part of Hamas and Lebanon taking the part of Gaza. It’s all there, PLO/Hamas indicating it accepts a two-state solution and gaining legitimacy by adhering to a truce. Israel, threatened by this “peace offensive,” breaks the truce, provoking a violent PLO/Hamas response which provides Israel with the excuse for an invasion of Lebanon/Gaza. The U.S. political class and media parrot the Israeli propaganda, it has the right to self-defense, its army practices purity of arms while the PLO/Hamas cowardly hides among the civilian population, never mind that Operation Peace for Galilee/Sderot is really “the war to safeguard the occupation of the West Bank” (Chomsky, quoting Avner Yaniv/Zvi Ba’rel, Ha’aretz, Nov. 16, 2008; Johann Hari, The Independent, Dec. 29, 2008; Meron Benvenisti, Ha’aretz, Jan. 22, 2009). Yes, now’s a good time to read Fateful Triangle, “perhaps more than ever.”